Tuesday, August 17, 2010

YouTube Video Shows Police Spraying Mace on Dominican Day Revelers

YouTube Video Shows Police Spraying Mace on Dominican Day Revelers

August 17, 2010 1:00pm   Updated August 17, 2010 1:09pm6commentsshareprint

A police officer is shown macing a crowd of revelers at a street party in Washington Heights after the Dominican Day Parade.


By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A YouTube video that shows a police officer spraying mace at a crowd of post-Dominican Day Parade revelers has the neighborhood up in arms.

Witnesses who were part of the large group singing and dancing on 186th Street, near St. Nicholas Avenue, about 11 p.m. on Aug. 8 said they were surprised by the police officer’s actions, and called the crowd loud and rowdy, but not violent.

Local residents who viewed the video after the incident all voiced disappointment with the way it portrayed the community, revelers and police.

Although noise and rowdy crowds after the parade can be a nuisance, they did not believe macing of revelers was an appropriate tactic for police to quell the crowds.

"A small but vocal number of revelers obviously went too far but by the same token it is reprehensible that the police officers decided that the way to fix the situation was by macing the crowd en masse," said local resident Leo Black, 36.

The video shows the crowd of revelers surrounded by a police squad car and unmarked car sitting in traffic with their lights and sirens on.

The crowd appears rowdy and boisterous as it chants “get out” in Spanish and motions for the police cars to move.

As the traffic seems to pick up, four plainclothes officers in the unmarked car suddenly get out and run toward the crowd, with one officer spraying people with what appears to be a can of mace.

The crowd then scatters and people can be heard saying they were “maced” with several people clutching their faces or being helped by friends.

Moments later bottles begin hitting the parked police car, which then takes off from the scene.

Arvey Valderrama, 21, said he was in the crowd when the police got out of their car and the officer began spraying mace.

“They did it 4 no reason,” he wrote in an email.

The creator of the video, filmaker Jay Arees, 23, said he was maced on his arm, neck and right eye at approximately 10:30 p.m.

“It wasn’t violent, he was just intimidated by the people, how many people there were,” Arees said of the officer who sprayed the crowd.

“He was a Caucasian male and there were minorities there,” he later added. “As a police officer you expect respect and they weren’t giving it to him so he maced them.”

Police did not respond to requests for comment about incident and could not provide information about arrests related to the day’s parade.

A pregnant teen was reportedly stabbed in the back of the head at the corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue during the parade, but no other arrests have been made public.

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It was dangerous and risky how this officer took things into his own hands, but I think a mob drinking and being rowdy on residential streets that late on Sunday night merits a harsher response. These idiots make us look bad carrying on this way long after the parade is over. This is not a justice or civil rights issue: the mob got the level of professionalism it asked for brazenly.
uptownergface | August 17, 2010
By the way I think it your point of view " Has the neighborhood up in arms " is your opinion and you have a right to it. But I find it to be throwing gas on the fire. You can bet there where many a happy resident when the party ended.
Onaha | August 17, 2010
perhaps some of you should take a step back and think. the cam was not close enough to the vehicles to hear or catch everything. its dark out and its a lame cell phone cam. You can't tell if there was anything else going on out of your line of site or within the cams listening range. You all know the gathering was ILLEGAL, UNORGANIZED, and in an instant could have been completely out of control. Its obviouse that if it did get out of control before there were any cops on the scene you would all be crying lack of protection, lack of enforcement , why did the city let this go on. please don't kid yourselves. Is anyone even looking at this with an open mind? Seems not. I can hear the us against them crowd now and its sickening. there are many other celebrations in this city,can any of you show me or us how many of those celebrations end up like this? This group acts soley by intimidation, intimidation by numbers. The crowd beleives that they are the ones in control. Look at the filth (trash)all over those streets. If anyone mentions respect all I can say is this group has none, not even for themselves. When you can give respect you'll get respect. Personally I beleive the parade should be BANNED. Take your blinders off people and look at it for what it is.
Onaha | August 17, 2010
...so...this thing chops off comments at a particular length without a warning popup box or something, and removes all formatting. Ooops.
ArtForStrangers | August 17, 2010
... riot, but hey, I gotta back my partner up, no matter what, cuz, you know, it's US against THEM". So now the police higher ups will offer their usual "it's being investigated" which means "gee I hope this all blows over cuz we don't wanna fire a cop and take responsibility and hopefully some muslims will open a holy hotdog stand somewhere and distract the public and media away from this mess". This isn't to defend the loud, obnoxious party people. I know it's awful to be exposed to that kind of noise. I've lived there. I know how loud, obnoxious people can practically drive you insane, as they did to my grandparents many years ago. But that doesn't give police the right to randomly assault people, just because the people assaulted are the sort you don't personally like. Cuz if that's the case, I'd like to sic this Aerosol Rambo on the mommies who let their little gremlin kids start grabbing my expensive acoustic guitar with their ice cream stained fingers as I try to enjoy a sunny day in the park, and the douche bag daddies who think the toys for sale in RiteAid are there for their little spawn to play with and throw around while the rest of us shop for overpriced batteries. People who think they're entitled to whatever the heck they want at the expense of others are obnoxious a-holes, no matter what race/culture/ethnicity/sneaker brand.
ArtForStrangers | August 17, 2010
So what's new? A police officer completely steps over the line and basically assaults a bunch of citizens with mace. Cops are having a ball with their new "non-lethal" toys, because they basically get to assault and torture human beings, but instead of beatdowns and illegal choke holds, they get to use 'approved' methods of assault anytime they feel 'threatened' and by 'they' I mean their ego and by 'threatened' I mean "that little spicsonuvabich just gave me a dirty look". It just happened to be caught on video this time. And whether they publicly state it here or not, there are a good portion of local residents who will feel a certain joy in watching these kids get maced, because the cop did what many of them would have liked to do themselves to the people that make noise out their own windows. And that's why it all starts to fall apart. That's where chaos starts, where bottles fly, and (while it was fortunate it didn't happen in this case), where bullets fly. And riots start. The police are supposed to act professionally. Obviously, this officer saw the kids basically teasing them by telling them to "get out", and this hurt his already inflated ego, pride, and sense of entitlement to unquestionable authority, and lost his temper with a "I'll show you, you pieces of s#!7 mace fest!". And his partner, naturally, has no choice but to stay on the coming rollercoaster ride, though I'd bet a million bucks he thought to himself "oh man, I hope we didn't just start a f#@
ArtForStrangers | August 17, 2010
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It is often not possible to tell, from videos such as this one, everything that happened. If we have learned anything in the past few months we should have learned how easy it is to take a clip out of context and lead the viewer to conclusions that are not justified when a fuller picture is provided. If that is the case here then the police should work to set the record straight. So far, however, police have provided no explanation of this event, nine days after it occurred.

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